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In a topsy-turvy week highlighted by a New York 6-2 spurt, first-place Montreal dropped six of eight and its lead shrank from 5� games to two. Pitcher Ross Grimsley sank to a new low by starting three losing games in one week. He was beaten 8-6 by the Dodgers, was lifted with a 5-4 lead over the Padres (his teammates went on to lose 7-5) and was beaten 28-0 by the Expo kids in the team's annual family game. When Grimsley complained that his outfielders—the adult ones—were playing too shallow, Manager Dick Williams barked, "All he has to do is stop play and move them." Another Expo starter, Steve Rogers, thought he saw the sacrifice sign on a 3-and-0 pitch and bunted into a double play. " Babe Ruth would have been taking," moaned Williams. "I've been in this game for 33 years and I've never seen that."
The Cardinals (2-4) played slightly better but comported themselves worse. Shortstop Garry Templeton, selected as a backup player for the All-Star Game, refused to go. "If I ain't startin', I ain't departin'," he said. Reserve Bernie Carbo, miffed at his lack of play-in' time, arrived at the Astrodome 25 minutes before game time. Manager Ken Boyer fined him an undisclosed amount and suspended him for one game.
Chicago (6-1), Philadelphia (6-1) and Pittsburgh (5-2) moved into serious contention. Despite injuries to Dave Kingman and Bill Buckner, the Cubs hit .330. Even Pitcher Bruce Sutter, who had four saves to extend his major league-leading total to 22, contributed with a key two-run single. Pirate pitchers were unusually sharp, particularly John Candelaria, who beat the Braves 5-1 on 80 pitches, and Kent Tekulve, who saved three games. Paced by Willie Stargell's two homers, Pittsburgh swept a three-game series in the Astrodome, where Houston had won 18 of its previous 20. The Phillies assaulted the record books. Steve Carlton struck out 14 Giants and five Padres to boost his career total to 2,583, tying him for 10th on the alltime list with Warren Spahn. And Del Unser set a major league mark with his third straight pinch-hit homer. "I've finally done one thing that's going to make people remember me," said the 12-year veteran.
MONT 49-35 CHI 47-37 PHIL 49-41 PITT 45-39 ST.L 43-42 NY 37-48
No team in the division had a winning week. Houston (1-5) extended its losing streak to seven, in the process hitting .213 and failing to clout a homer, get a complete game from a starting pitcher or score more than three runs. "Four or five guys have to break out," said Third Baseman Enos Cabell, "because we don't have a power hitter." The Astros finally ended the slide by beating the Cardinals 3-2.
Cincinnati (3-5) insisted on playing in the rain at Riverfront Stadium and regretted it: The Reds blew a 7-0 lead and lost 10-8 to the Cubs in a much-delayed game that ended before fewer than 500 weary fans at 2:55 a.m. But Tom Seaver moved into sixth place on the alltime strikeout list with 2,823, passing Cy Young, and Manager John McNamara was rehired through 1980.
San Francisco (3-5) took three straight from a first-place team ( Montreal) and lost three straight to a last-place team ( New York). In a 7-6 defeat at the hands of the Mets, the Giants wasted 17 hits. "It is truly cosmic," said Rightfielder Jack Clark.
San Diego (4-4) buzzed with cries and whispers. Some players grumbled when Gaylord Perry was allowed to spend four days in North Carolina after beating the Mets. He returned to allow five runs in five innings. Others wondered about Reliever Rollie Fingers, who lost two games and was rocked for 15 hits and nine runs in 7? innings before rebounding to get his 12th save, against Montreal. There, were no doubts about Rightfielder Dave Winfield, who hit .433 and became the first Padre chosen to the All-Star team.